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My friend, James, died unexpectedly last week. He was 29 years old.

At the same time, fires blazed across northern California engulfing land, property and taking dozens of lives.

All stunning reminders of the impermanence of life.

I know the shadow of impermanence too. Eleven years ago, I was diagnosed with a degenerative nerve condition. The reality is that some who are diagnosed with this condition die. I know more than almost anyone I’ve ever met the value of every day. Upon diagnosis, I looked at my mortality in the face and then got the news that I’m one of the fortunate ones and the disease will likely not take my life. I have a much longer lease on life but I live with the regular reminder of impermanence.

This past week brought that back into full view.

James’ fiancé posted a message to everyone who knew him but I believe it is a message for everyone whether you knew James or not.

My request is that you honor his life and soul by being like him. Truly lion-hearted, unabashedly loving, and seeking transformation at every chance given. Honor him by being extraordinary fathers, husbands, and brothers. Honor him by trusting your worth if you leave the military – and go make something amazing out of the skills you learned there. Honor him if you’re wealthy but empty; find a purpose bigger than yourself to live from. Honor him by bringing intention to your life and stop drifting. Honor him by being authentic and saying what needs to be said. Honor him by doing your part to end war, however that looks for you. Honor him by creating intimate, real, loving friendships with other men – allow and lean on brotherhood. Honor him not only with your big accomplishments, but with making the small details and little moments just as delicious. Honor him by, whatever gender or background, being a damn good human being and looking out for others.

  • Don’t wait. Don’t wait for the perfect time to do the thing you know needs to be done.
  • Take one small step to make an impact on something you deeply care about
  • Look deeply into your wife’s eyes and tell her why you love her
  • Forgive fully a debt, mistake or sin committed against you
  • Show love beyond the point you’re comfortable
  • Tell the truth, in love, to someone who needs to hear it
  • Commit this moment and all the moments that you still have to honoring God

Don’t hold back. Don’t wait.

Marianne Williamson famously said, “You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory that is within us. And as we let our light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I’m thankful that James didn’t shrink and that he showed his light. Of all the things he did in his short life and during the short time I knew him, I believe this was his greatest legacy. He liberated me from my fear.

What will be your legacy?

Jeff HarmonJeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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